If you notice your dog is looking a bit stressed out, it could be because of your own stress.
On Thursday, a new study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports has found that pet dogs may connect their stress levels to those of their owners.
It appears that our pets may be synchronizing our mental state, which can be bad for their health.
Researchers from Sweden studied 58 dogs and their owners. Their personalities were assessed through standardized personality questionnaires, with owners answering the Dog Personality Questionnaires. The researchers also measured the stress hormone called cortisol in the dogs and their owners’ hair for a year.
The findings showed a significant connection between human and dog cortisol levels. The dogs’ cortisol levels matched those of their owners, which means that for these dogs, the cortisol levels increased and decreased in unison with the cortisol levels of their owners.
The researchers also found that owners with higher stress levels had dogs with higher stress levels too. In addition, they reported that female dogs were found to have a stronger connection with their owner’s stress levels when compared with male dogs.
However, one of the limiting factors to this new study was that it did not identify the causes of increased stress in the dog owners.
Dogs are emotional animals. They can experience both positive and negative emotions, such as fear, pleasure, comfort, anxiety, etc. And dogs with a poor mental state can result in poor animal welfare. If we manage and control our own stress levels, it is likely that we will help our dog’s stress levels.
Chronic stress is bad for not only humans but also dogs, increasing the likelihood of getting sick and decreasing our and their quality of life. There are many resources available for reducing stress levels, and the good news is you can use them for your dog as well.